Take a drive around Grand Junction, and your GPS might give you instructions like these.
“Turn right onto 28 ½ Road. In a quarter mile, turn left onto B 4/10 road.”
The numbers, letters and fractions might seem nonsensical: 25 ½ Road intersects with F ½ Road. A little further southwest, C ½ Road intersects with 28 ¾ Road, and so on.
But there is some method to the madness, which actually helps drivers situate themselves within Grand Valley.
Marie Tipping, a library volunteer with the Museum of the West, broke down the naming devices behind Grand Valley roads.
Lettered roads run east to west. The baseline is “A Road” in Orchard Mesa, a small community south of Grand Junction. Each subsequent letter is a mile north of the last.
That’s where the fractions come in. A ½ Road is a half-mile north of A Road, B 4/10 Road is four-tenths of a mile north of B Road, etc.
Numbers play an even greater role in roads running north-south. The baseline is the state line with Utah. Road 1 is one mile from the state line, Road 2 is two miles. Fractions work the same way: 2 ½ Road is 2 ½ miles from the state line.
“It’s real easy. It’s just from the Utah state line here in Mesa County. So that tells you where in the valley that you are,” Tipping said.
The system does get a little complicated near downtown Grand Junction, however. There’s a difference between numbered roads and numbered streets.
When Grand Junction’s streets were arranged in 1885, 12 streets were laid out in one mile to accommodate houses and smaller blocks. That means in downtown Grand Junction, 26 Road is 1st Street, 26 ½ Road is 7th Street, and so on.
Drivers who want to thank or blame them for the naming systems, won’t find any streets named after the town founders.Tipping discovered the reason in a 19th century book called “The History of Grand Junction.”
“When they founded Grand Junction, they didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So they didn’t name any of the roads after any of the town founders that lived here,” Tipping said.
So when Siri asks you to turn right at 28 ½ Road, and then turn left in a quarter mile at B 4/10 Road, you know you’re 28 ½ miles from the Utah Border and nearly 1 ½ miles north of Orchard Mesa